Market Monster Collaboration Stories: Success or Failure?

Collaboration between tech giants is pervasive in the electronics world. There are dozens of proofs of this in the history of the largest brands. Sometimes circumstances unite even irreconcilable competitors, not to mention all kinds of collaborations between companies. Examples include successful projects and downright failures.

Brand rivalry is, in most cases, a marketing ploy. In this way, companies get real fans, which is very useful for brand positioning and reputation. Of course, there are exceptions when there is really animosity between companies, as in the case of brothers Rudolph and Adolf Dassler, who founded Puma and Adidas, respectively.

What is the point of cooperation between market leaders?
The average man in the street regards the products on display as products of one brand, but in reality this is far from the case. The largest manufacturers cooperate with each other, connect smaller companies (outsourcing) to production and not only. Often, a brand produces various electronics, simply assembling a product from parts from several suppliers, and sometimes even a contractor does the assembly.

The main reasons for brand collaboration.

The complexity of organizing a full cycle production. This will require separate factories for the production of parts with constant modernization, an increase in the number of employees and the organization of their effective work.
Reducing the cost of the product. Many electronics manufacturers order components from Chinese, Vietnamese or Taiwanese manufacturers. It’s cheaper than making the parts yourself.
New opportunities. Specialized companies are focused on one area and can often offer more efficient solutions or technologies. For example, battery manufacturers.
Expansion of the product catalog. By purchasing items, electronics manufacturers can provide a variety of products and enter new markets without additional investment.
Joint development. Speeds up research and the search for new solutions. One head it’s good, but two better. Collaboration often results in innovative solutions.
Expansion of the supply network and points of sale.

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Increasing audience loyalty and interest in the product. Brand collaboration grabs attention and drives sales.

Technology rules the world. The future of corporations depends on patents and the effectiveness of solutions, so manufacturers themselves pay attention to research and do everything to advance at the expense of other developers. Thus, cooperation allows you to make a profit in the short term due to the accelerated release of new products and an increase in the rate of production, and in the long term, it provides development potential, growth opportunities, maintaining the market and becoming a segment leader.

As for the cooperation of competitors, it is best characterized by the expression “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In other words, competitors are usually “friends” against the third, who acts as a leader.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of cooperation between tech giants and the results they have achieved through joint efforts.

Nvidia + AMD + Intel

A real battle of the titans, which, for sure, is only just flaring up. These 3 teams compete with each other in different directions with varying degrees of success. AMD and Intel face off against each other in the processor market, while Nvidia , AMD and Intel overlap in the graphics card and GPU market . Of course, there are many more areas where the interests of these corporations converged.

In stores: in 12 stores
At the last CES 2021, AMD CEO Lisa Su made a blue-team presentation, which many saw as a hint of future AMD and Intel collaboration. Before that, the companies had already worked together, but had serious conflicts.

And one more important clarification: Lisa Su is the cousin of Nvidia President Jensen Huang. Now let’s go.

AMD + Intel = Intel Kaby Lake-G with AMD Vega Graphics
Intel and AMD teamed up in 2017 to create an alternative to Nvidia discrete graphics. Formally, the platform is considered an MCM (multi-chip module), where a GPU with a 4 GB HBM2 buffer is a separate die located on the same substrate as the CPU.

Interestingly, in 2009, Intel was caught bribing computer manufacturers by offering them a reward for abandoning AMD hardware. The European Commission forced to pay the “red” team more than 1 billion euros, which at that time was a record fine. And after 8 years, the companies presented a joint development processor . By the way, now there are rumors that the situation is repeating itself, only this time Intel has joined forces with Nvidia. However, so far these are only rumors.

Alas, despite the fantastic prospects, the potential of the platform was never revealed. There were several reasons for this:

Targeting niche products – 2-in-1 laptops that have yet to catch on with buyers.
Broken promises. In particular, the developers positioned the product as a solution for the budget and middle price segment, but in fact the price of ready-made laptops with this platform turned out to be much higher than the average.
Lack of interest in the development of the project.
Despite public expectations, Intel and AMD apparently set different goals, which, apparently, were achieved. In fact, the above reasons for failure indicate that the companies did not plan to succeed in this direction.

And all would be fine, but the owners of laptops with the Intel Kaby Lake-G platform have become a victim of circumstances. Technically, Kaby Lake-G is an Intel product, but the graphics core is owned by AMD. As a result, the companies shifted the release of the update for the graphics core to each other. As a result, AMD developers took pity on users, releasing an update with an interval of more than a year.

Intel Kaby Lake-G processors are completely shut down in mid-2020. A good example of what an experiment with a joint release of a product by competitors can turn into buyers.

By the way, before that, AMD and Intel collaborated in the field of graphics, although not directly. In 2008, it became known about the cooperation of AMD with Havok, which was acquired by Intel and was considered one of the divisions of the “blue” team.

In 2012, AMD bought one of Intel’s key partners in the microserver market, SeaMicro. Formally, this speaks of partnership, because the systems used Intel Atom chip arrays. The company ceased to exist in 2015. It is noteworthy that according to forecasts for 2012, in 2015, SeaMicro was supposed to occupy 10% of the entire server market.

Nvidia + AMD = DGX Systems for Data Centers
In the spring of 2020, Nvidia teamed up with its main competitor to launch data centers. The “green” team had to refuse to cooperate with Intel, because the “blue” team could not offer the required processor. But AMD by that time had already presented 64-core EPYC 7742 Rome, made according to the 7 nm process technology. Friendship is friendship, but the result is above all. Nevertheless, it is too early to judge the result of this cooperation.

Nvidia + AMD + Intel + Motherboard Manufacturers = Resizable BAR
Just a few days ago, Nvidia pledged support for Resizable BAR technology in mobile and desktop GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards. Nvidia is working with AMD and Intel, as well as motherboard manufacturers ASUS , MSI , ASRock , Gigabyte , to implement the technology in the next few months.

What will this give the user? AMD graphics cards with Resizable BAR support will deliver 5-11% performance gains.

ATI Technologies + AMD
Over its 21-year history, Canadian-based ATI Technologies has become one of the leading GPU vendors and one of the largest companies in its industry. In 2006, AMD buys ATI Technologies (including intellectual property) for fabulous money at that time – $ 5.4 billion. The Canadian company became one of the divisions that was later renamed the AMD Graphics Products Group. Actually, the Radeon trademark, which we see on AMD video cards in recent years, was inherited from ATI Technologies. Considering that in 2019 AMD managed to overtake Intel for the first time in sales, the joint efforts of AMD and ATI Technologies were very successful.

AMD + Samsung
The companies announced strategic partnerships back in 2019. It is still difficult to predict how this cooperation will turn out. It was originally announced that Samsung was going to implement RDNA graphics in the Exynos SoC for mobile devices. The South Korean giant also announced a partnership with ARM, which was acquired by Nvidia. Just a few days ago, Samsung’s management announced a fruitful collaboration and the release of the flagship Exynos 2100 platform. The Samsung platform with AMD graphics is expected to be released in 2021.

In addition, there are rumors of a Samsung processor being developed for desktop PCs. So far, these are only rumors, especially since AMD is unlikely to promote the emergence of another competitor on the market without good reason.

Samsung + Apple
For several years Samsung has been a key partner and at the same time one of the main competitors of Apple in the smartphone market (and not only), supplying the Apple company with various components. In addition, the South Korean company uses the Apple ecosystem in some of its products, although Microsoft has undoubtedly the priority.

Taking the iPhone as an example , Samsung is one of the main manufacturers of chips and displays. For example, in 2017, Samsung Display was the only OLED panel supplier for the iPhone 8, completing its 92 million display target. Periodically, Apple breaks down its purchases into several companies, including LG and the ambitious BOE.

Samsung is one of the Cupertino company’s most important partners in many areas, despite regular fines from both sides and legal proceedings. You can recall a funny story from 2012, when Samsung paid Apple a $ 1 billion fine by sending 30 trucks of 5 cents coins. Of course, this is more like a joke, because it is difficult to find 20 billion coins, and the number of trucks to transport the entire amount would not be enough – perhaps Samsung thus delivered only part of the compensation. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about the authenticity of the fine. The South Korean company also regularly knocks out compensation from Apple. These are the realities of corporate life. But while the market leaders, who have been taking the first place in the top sales for 9 years, are busy fighting with each other, their competitors are gradually catching up. So,

Microsoft and IBM vs. Apple
This is one of the most instructive stories on the list. IBM computers with Intel processors and Microsoft operating systems became the real standard in the 1980s, despite the more flexible Apple Macintosh. At the beginning of the confrontation, the leadership of the Cupertino company understood that the main threat came from Microsoft.

Despite the well-organized holivar and numerous trials, in 1996, Steve Jobs found the strength to admit defeat. After that, Apple rethought the approach, choosing parallel development instead of confrontation. This freed up additional resources and opened up new opportunities for the company: including Apple engaged in the development of players and mobile devices.

Microsoft remains the PC market leader. However, Apple began to set the tone for the mobile segment, staying at the top to this day. The popularity of Apple computers has also grown significantly. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s attempts to enter the smartphone market have so far failed.

Now all the companies mentioned are actively cooperating with each other, but the strongest link can be seen between Intel and Microsoft (Wintel).

Samsung + other companies
The development strategy of the South Korean giant is not satisfactory, which is confirmed by a large catalog of products, for the development of which Samsung cooperates with other brands. Several examples can be cited.

Samsung and Xiaomi have jointly developed a 108MP camera. The Samsung ISOCELL Bright HMX sensor can be seen in the Mi Note 10 and Galaxy S11 + (a customized version of the sensor).

It is noteworthy that in 2018 Xiaomi produced the budget Galaxy A6s in its factories. The cooperation proved to be successful for both companies, whose products are in stable demand in various segments of the mobile device market.

Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Smartphone 128 GB White

Sony and Samsung share a long-standing friendship, in which the companies have even shared their best practices and technologies. Perhaps this is the reason why both companies have succeeded in the TV and smartphone camera market.

In 2017, Samsung and Microsoft presented an unusual solution to turn a smartphone into a PC. This required connecting a keyboard, mouse, monitor and charging through a special docking station – Samsung DeX. In fact, DeX technology has created a single workspace between a smartphone, PC or laptop . At the time of launch, only the owners of the flagship Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 + and Galaxy Note 8 could evaluate the capabilities of DeX.

Subsequently, the need for a docking station disappeared. In order to turn a smartphone into a computer, you just need to turn on the DeX mode, which is now available not only in smartphones, but also in tablets with a plug-in keyboard.

12.4 “Tablet Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 + 128GB Black 69 999 *
The latter are becoming a kind and rather successful alternative to laptops. Samsung tablet sales are up over 89% in 2020. The companies did not stop there and expanded their cooperation in 2020, developing solutions for xCloud cloud gaming.

Incidentally, a year earlier, Microsoft and Sony also announced a strategic partnership to develop cloud gaming. Perhaps it was Samsung who managed to bring competitors closer together. In 2020, it became known that Microsoft and Sony are collaborating on the development of computer vision and video analytics.

BenQ + Siemens
Siemens AG is a major technology giant that has made a name for itself in many industries. The company was one of the first to start producing mobile phones, but the growing competition in the market led to the decision to sell the division. There were rumors about several potential buyers, but the Taiwanese company BenQ was able to offer better terms, and the deal was closed in 2005. In order to increase audience loyalty and reach the international level, the agreement stipulated the possibility of using the BenQ-Siemens brand for 5 years.

Alas, the BenQ-Siemens brand did not stay afloat, although the total volume of production helped the company to reach 4th place in the international ranking. The main reason for the failure was the hasty launch of new products. The company filed for bankruptcy 11 months after the deal was closed.

Sony + Ericsson
The once popular and respected brand Sony Ericsson was created as a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson in 2001 and has achieved considerable success. As an example, we can recall such hits as Sony Ericsson K700i (2004), K750i (2005), K790i / K800i (2006), W800i and of course Xperia X1.

Later, Sony bought out Ericsson’s share in the business, renaming the brand to Sony Mobile and releasing its own products under it with varying success. The takeover ended in 2012. The company released the first smartphones under its own brand with the Sony Ericsson logo.

Following the completion of the deal, the Swedish company Ericsson, one of the pioneers of the mobile phone market, went into other areas, succeeding in telecommunications.

Unusual collaborations
To expand their audience and product catalog, electronics manufacturers often partner with fashion and sportswear brands, major franchises, automakers, athletes, artists, and other celebrities. The result of this collaboration is a special version of the product, which is given a special name, for example, BMW Edition.

In the framework of the collaboration, sometimes the most insane projects are encountered.

KFC + Cooler Master = KFConsole . At first, the release of the console looked like a joke, then it looked like a long-drawn-out joke. At the end of 2020, the company officially introduced KFConsole, and the official release is due on January 23. Along the way, the descendants of Colonel Sanders trolled various manufacturers, but most of all went to the developers of CD Projekt RED for the constant transfers of Cyberpunk 2077.
KFC + NASA = sandwich launch into the stratosphere. The flight was carried out in a controlled Stratollite balloon, and lasted for several days. On board the aircraft all this time there was a sandwich from the KFC menu.
GoPro and RedBull = Felix Baumgartner’s leap from the stratosphere. Using the RedBull Stratos flying machine, Felix Baumgartner ascended 40 km and made a jump to Earth. All this was recorded by GoPro action cameras mounted on a spacesuit.
Philips + Star Wars franchise = SW9700 electric shavers. One example of collaboration with major franchises, where Philips released four Star Wars shavers.
Coca-Cola + Star Wars franchise = Coca-Cola bottles with lightsaber . The limited edition of 8,000 bottles was equipped with an OLED strip that would light up when the bottle was held in the hand. The resource of the OLED panel is 500 switch-ons and 40 minutes of operation.
Talking about the Star Wars franchise, you can think of other interesting collaborations. For example, a series of multicooker Williams Sonoma with designs in the style of R2-D2, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, BB-8, Chewbacca.

The list of examples of cooperation between market leaders can go on for a very long time. In most of the examples cited, the interaction of technology giants turned out to be beneficial for the end consumer, which can be regarded as a success. Of course, it was not without high-profile failures or frankly unsuccessful projects, from which some companies have been able to benefit for themselves.